October 13, 2012

Children's Museum to celebrate grand opening


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Organizers of the Imaginarium Children’s Museum are hoping to stir excitement and draw volunteers from the community during Sunday’s grand-opening celebration.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all are invited to conduct experiments in the brand-new science room, play with never-before-seen exhibits, learn about museum-membership opportunities and more.

“Basically, it’s our big hurrah, saying we’re here and we would love for you to come and see what we’ve been doing … we have all these new things,” said Karen Dispo-De Boos, the museum’s marketing director. “Our grand opening is also our kickoff for our regular hours that we’re going to start installing.”


The exhibits focus on interactive, hands-on exploration, imaginative play and fun. They include a new Construction Zone, complete with tools and a workbench; and the Glow Room, which features light tables, an activity similar to the popular Lite-Brite toy, and other surprises. A farmers market with realistic-looking plastic vegetables and a cash register is also featured, as well as a climbing wall, reading corner and more.

Also new is the dentist area, an exhibit featuring dental X-rays, an X-ray viewer and dental chair, all donated by a local practice.

“It’s educational … I think it’s also a good thing because it will help children to be less afraid of the dentist,” Dispo-De Boos said.

“It’s definitely a discovery museum,” she added. “We want our kids to come and play and learn.”

One reason the Imaginarium is unique is because it combines science and imaginative play to create something for everyone, said Alicia Roberts Frank, vice president of operations.

“A lot of the (children’s museums) are either scientific or they’re imaginative play, and we’re trying to do a bit of both to appeal to all ages,” she said.

“We’re trying to reach everyone so that when a family comes, the older kids aren’t bored; they have something that’s interesting, too.”


Sunday’s Science Spectacular program will offer hands-on learning projects for the older children.

“I have someone who’s going to be doing film-canister rockets, self-inflating balloons, invisible ink …” Frank said.

“We’re having things like Goop and Gak and Oobleck … floating eggs and just little activities you can do at home.”

The goal, she said, is to encourage learning through play and provide an avenue for kids to become inquisitive about their world.

Other projects, including a Sensory Zone, are in the works, with some dreams yet to be imagined.

“Because it’s a community project, we want community input,” Frank said. “If it’s only a couple of us making decisions, then it becomes what we want and not what everyone wants, so the more voices and people we can get on the table, the better.”

Frank and Dispo-De Boos, who each have two small children, said volunteers can help in many different ways.

“We’re looking for people to help with exhibits, for people to help with programs, people who would be willing to staff open play (sessions),” Frank said. 

Help cleaning up and setting up would also be greatly appreciated, Dispo-De Boos said.


Organizers are drawing ideas for exhibits from a number of other children’s museums across the world. They aim to incorporate those plans into the museum’s future permanent location, pending grant funding and a capital campaign to raise $10 million. The ground-breaking could happen as soon as spring 2014. 

Frank said there are no limits to what the museum could become.

“We’re only limited by our imagination and the people that can help us,” Dispo-De Boos said.

“It’s a labor of love. The museum, we put our heart and soul into this. We’re motivated by the fact that we’re all parents.”

“We’re all parents — and we’re educators,” Frank said.

Email Rachael Osborne:

IF YOU GO WHAT: Grand-opening celebration of the Imaginarium Children's Museum. WHERE: 4709 Route 9, Plattsburgh. WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. ADMISSION: $5 for ages 2 and older. Free for those younger than 2. NEW HOURS: The museum's new regular hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. CONTACT: For questions, call 324-7426 or find the nonprofit on Facebook.